Bloomberg New

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Tuesday, and boosted its full-year profit forecasts, as Optum revenues continue to pace topline growth for the biggest U.S. healthcare insurance group.

UnitedHealth said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in September came in at $3.88 per share, up 13.7% from the same period last year and firmly ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $3.75. Group revenues, UnitedHealth said, rose 7% to $60.4 billion, again topping analysts' estimates of a $59.8 billion tally.

Looking into 2019, UnitedHealth said it sees adjusted earnings in the region of $14.90 to $15.00 per share, up 10 cents from the prior upgraded forecast from the summer, or 15 cents at the mid-point, which at the time were helped by the Trump administration's move to scrap plans to require health insurers to return billions in rebates to patients under the government's Medicare plan.

"Optum and UnitedHealthcare are driving value for our customers, creating momentum to finish the year strongly and move into 2020 with an intense focus on accelerating the growth of our businesses by advancing quality, affordability and satisfaction for those we serve," said CEO David Wichmann.

UnitedHealth shares were soared 7.65% higher at the start of trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $237.47 each, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date decline to around 8.3%.

Revenues at Optum, its pharmacy benefits management business, rose 13.35 to $28.8 billion while the division's bottom line rose 16.1% to $2.4 billion. OptumRx revenues were marked 5.8% higher at $18.5 billion, while OptumHealth sales surged 34.4% to $8.1 billion.